A long-anticipated $5 million interior renovation of the iconic French House at LSU is underway and is expected to be completed by the middle of next year. LSU officials say the renovation, when complete, will bring to fruition a fully modernized campus for the LSU Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College, which has been housed in the 19,000-square-foot building since 1999.
“The interior renovations of the French House will finally make it possible to have a world-class honors campus for the Ogden Honors College here at LSU,” Honors College Dean Jonathan Earle says in a feature story from the LSU Honors College website. “It’s the last, and most important, piece of the puzzle. First we renovated the Laville Honors House, then we shored up the roof and windows of the French House, and now we’re going to transform the interior spaces to meet the needs of every Ogden Honors student, staff member and faculty instructor.”
As its name implies, the French House was built for $75,000 in 1935 to house male and female students studying French and other romance languages. French and Italian were required conversational languages in the building, which also hosted formal dinners once a week and was a regular site for evening choral and theatre performances.
The renovation that began in December will see each of the building’s three floors remodeled to accommodate office and classroom space. Hallways, existing classrooms and entrances are all being reconfigured, while a central atrium space is being added. All Honors College adviser and staff offices are being moved to the third floor of the building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“The design provides modern amenities and technologies and creates optimum learning environments that can adapt to the needs of tomorrow’s students—all while respecting the legacy of the historic building,” says plan architect Kenneth Tipton.
The $5 million renovation is being funded through capital outlay funds allocated in early 2014 by Gov. Bobby Jindal. Laville Honors House, the Honors College residence hall adjacent to the French House, underwent an extensive $40 million renovation in 2012. The French House renovation is expected to take 18 months.
“A modern, fully functional French House is the long-awaited final component of an Honors campus that will offer a unique learning community for our highest achieving students,” says Brian Haymon, chair of the Ogden Honors College Advisory Council. “Under the leadership of new Dean Jonathan Earle, the Ogden Honors College is poised to reach new heights as it prepares the next generation of Louisiana leaders.”